|This article, Mourning Wardens, is currently under active construction. The author, Urthan, apologizes for the inconvenience.|
The Mourning Wardens were created during the 26th Founding and were, for centuries, ranked among the youngest chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, which led them to ever greater act of devotion to prove their worth. With the Ultima Founding, they have found themselves in a strange position, elder and yet weaker than those newly created Chapters comprised entirely of Primaris Space Marines. Yet, the Mourning Wardens have remained undeterred and still thrive to provide defense and protection to those whom call for help, no matter the dangers they face.
Even amongst the Sons of Dorn, the Wardens are especially stoic and grim. Their pride expresses itself not in the swing of the blade or cold arrogance but in the calm satisfaction of a unbreakable defense being pierced by their efforts or an indefensible outpost holding out thanks to their presence. However, their stubbornness sometimes costs them to endure unnecessary sacrifices in the course of their duties.
Prior to the 26th Founding, the High Lords of Terra convened to determine the will of the Emperor. All could tell that dark times were ahead of the Imperium, and that a vast swathe of new Chapters was needed. However, omens, both good and bad, were so numerous at that time that being able to see through the shroud of the God-Emperor's infinite wisdom was sometimes almost impossible to decipher. It was mostly the case for the soon to be created Mourning Wardens. It was apparent that there was a need to reinforce the southern border of the Segmentum Tempestus. Though in doubt, it was the venerable gene-seed of Rogal Dorn which was granted the honour of being used.
After careful deliberations, the High Lords chose to eschew the use of the Imperial Fists or the Black Templars, instead opting to resort to the tithe of the Crimson Fists. Such a choice was not lightly done, for many a Lord was afraid that, faced with the uncertainty of the Emperor's will, not resorting to the gene-seed of a First Founding was dangerous and possibly something opening potential heresies. However, those most egregious dispositions did not prevail and the Astartes from Rynn's World were contacted.
It was decided that only a small cadre of Crimson Fists would be selected, barely a dozen, for the High Lords wanted neither to weaken the Fists nor to imprint too much of them on their successor. Strangely, the Crimson Fists chose to send away those members who had a particularly dour disposition, and a grim outlook on life and the current situation of the Imperium. It was why the High Lords named the new Chapter the Mourning Wardens, for those few Battle-Brothers felt that the Imperium had fallen away from its highest times and was now diminishing.
The Mourning Wardens are a Codex-compliant Chapter, holding true to the wisdom of the Codex Astartes as accepted by Rogal Dorn. However, some idiosyncrasies have found their place into the Chapter's organisation, a resultant of Occiana's feudal societies. Indeed, under the guidance of the High Protector, the Defenders of the Chapter posses far more autonomy and a tendency to bicker and act as the petty lords of their home-world, always seeking more influence and power into the ranks of the Chapter.
Therefore, a Defender's ranking into the Chapter will change over time. A newly anointed member of this august company will be sent to the 10th Company, where he'll either remain until another place in a more prestigious Company becomes empty, or until a new Defender shall replace him, if he is satisfied with his lot. But more often than not, Defenders thrive to prove their worth and ascend to the First Company. While for outsiders, this organisation seems raucous and chaotic, and a source of rancor and instability, the Wardens have found it to suit their personality perfectly, for the never ending competition forces their members to achieve ever greater acts of heroism.
Of course, a fall from grace will see the Defender whose tally of victory has become insufficient being retrograded to a less honourable position. The tale of Erbrad de Castelrous is often used as a cautionary story for the members of the Chapter. Erbrad, who had worked hard and managed to rise to the rank of Defender of the 10th Company, and then the First... but then rested on his laurels, feeling secure in his position, only to be demoted to the 9th after the terrible failure of the Siege of Catovar.
Since the Chapter was reinforced by roughly three hundred Primaris Astartes during the recent Ultima Founding, those superior Astartes have already claimed two Defenders, and many a Warden strongly believe that in less than two centuries, the whole command structure will be comprised of those superior warriors, something which doesn't seem to bother the members of the Chapter. After all, it is best to be led by the best than follow inferior lords in the pursuit of war.
The Mourning Wardens are, among the kin of Rogal Dorn, an especially grim and dispiriting Chapter at first glance. Theirs is not the belief that a great tomorrow can still be achieved, that crisis can be surmounted for a long span of time, and that civilization can be restored forever. Instead, the Wardens believe that year after year, Mankind slides ever deeper into a pit of baseless corruption, nepotism, self-serving debasement and a general lack of moral which tears down the Imperial culture and greatness with greater certainty than even the most monstrous ravages of Chaos or xenos could ever hope to achieve.
However, central to the Chapter's tenets is the belief that when the nadir of civilization is reached, terrible crises arise and those few who still have great qualities shall lead the thronging masses of their vile and degenerate brethren back into a short pinnacle of purity and glory, until they too will become corrupted by pride, self-serving aggrandisement and a general self-satisfaction at their success which drives them toward a rejection of worthy inheritors to cling to their powers and privileges.
This is why the structure of the Chapter is far less rigid than what is usually the norm - only by ensuring that the very best of their Battle-Brothers may achieve and keep the highest ranks and honours they can bestow upon themselves, do the Wardens believe that they'll be able to preserve the integrity, if not of the Imperium, at least of Mankind's potential toward greatness. Occiana's troubled feudal society, with its innumerable warlords, petty tyrants and princes had thus greatly influenced those Sons of Dorn.
The Imperial Fists' gene-seed is very stable and has never exhibited signs of mutation. However, over time they have lost the use of two of the special organs produced by the basic Astartes genetic template: the Betcher's Gland, which allows a Space Marine to produce poisonous/acidic spittle, and the Sus-an Membrane, which allows an Astartes to enter a state of suspended animation. As successors from the Crimson Fist, the main body of the Chapter's Battle-Brothers also lack those implants, even if the Primaris who have joined their ranks do not share this deficiency.
Overall, the gene-seed of the Wardens is extremely stable, no sign of mutation has been discovered in the centuries the Chapter has spent waging war for the Imperium. But like their elder brethren, they are extremely prone to self-inflicted pain in a way to purge supposed inefficiencies in battle. Added to the already grim outlook that this Chapter exhibit, it's not hard to understand why the Inquisition monitor them closely, afraid that this over-zealous behavior could become the road to corruption.
The coming of the Primaris had added a layer of complexity over this question, since none of those superior Brother has exhibited so far this tendency of self-mutilation, and they posses all the gene-seeds which are lacking among their Brothers, and more. While there hasn't been definite proof one way or another, numerous rumors pretend that the Wardens are trying to slowly but surely replace their whole pool of warriors by Primaris while keeping the original gene-seeds as a safety net, deep into their fortress-monastery.
Chapter Battle Doctrine
The Mourning Wardens are experts in the use of bolter, favoring to crush their enemies from afar, to avoid the waste of life that often comes with close-quarter battles. Siege battles are their forte, either in offense or in defense, the whole Chapter's doctrine turning around strong rallying points, almost impossible for the enemy to break, so their forces may fall back to very secure positions if the need arise. In-between, the Wardens make a great use of their tanks, which are seen as little moving fortresses.
However, this preference for long-distance warfare doesn't mean that the Astartes from this Chapter eschew the deadly art of the blade, quite the contrary. Like a lot of the Imperial Fists' successors, the Brothers practice duels on a daily basis when away from the battlefield and each one thrive to become a blade master of renown. Still, they rarely make use of those abilities in their battle-plans, seeing it as a last ditch weapon to be unleashed to bring as many foes as possible with oneself in death.
For it is perhaps the greatest weakness of the Mourning Wardens. They are incredibly stubborn and suffers great losses which could be avoided with a little more flexible approach to war. But for those scions of Dorn, retreating is a terrible shame. many a Defender saw his rise through the ranks stopped because he did the wise choice to pull back from an already lost battle to fight another day, even if considerable success may allow him to overcome this terrible blemish on his honor.
And yet, at times, this stubbornness has also been the well from which victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. Many a disastrous battle ended as a costly won for the Brothers, when their enemy simply failed to break their moral. After all, it is a central tenet for the Wardens that no fortification is stronger than its weakest stone, and that even the greatest of bastion can be fallen if its defenders lose heart. This is why, in their short history, the Mourning Wardens have come to be seen as some of the best siege warriors that the Imperium has to offer.
The armor of the Mourning Wardens is mostly of a dark red, with the exception of the face of their helmet and the whole length of their left arm, which are pitch black. On their homeworld of Occiana, those colors are associated with war and loss, and by wearing them on their armors, the Wardens signify to their foes that they are war incarnate and that no mercy will be offered. The Chapter symbol is a white skull with a red tear coming out of its right eye, the same shade as the Astartes' armors.
The armors of the Brothers are heavily adorned with seals of purity and other tokens of devotion, usually hand-crafted from scraps gathered in a battlefield. The Astartes also try their best to keep their sacred envelopes workable but not pristine, for a shattered or marred Power Armor is only the sign of a warrior willing to do his duty, and a testament to the Wardens' knowledge that Mankind is doomed to fall before it can rise again, locked in a perpetual cycle.
The Primaris share the same color pattern, with the addition of the knee pads being black and far less seals of purity, for they are willing to display their devotion, to their new Chapter, Rogal Dorn, Guilliman and the Emperor in a less visible fashion.
As almost everything in the Warden's Chapter, their Fleet is the object of competition. The Mourning Wardens only possess a limited amount of star-ships, a Battle-Barge -Suffering of Terra- and three Strike Cruisers -Rogal's Fury, Occiana's Redemption and Scourge of the Sinful.
Therefore Defenders are always vying for the right to make use of one of those. The honor to be placed on the Battle-Barge, and thus deployed in the most dangerous engagement, is extremely sought after by the Marines of each Company. But for the Defenders, there is no highest honor than to be designated Admiral, a fleeting title bestowed upon the one leading the three Companies embarked on Suffering of Terra.
More often than not, the Strike Cruisers are used by the Reserve Companies, to be deployed either against relatively minor foes, or in a larger gathering of Space Marines, both situations where the less experienced Astartes can make the most of their abilities while either dealing with opponents easier to subdue, or supported by veterans Marines from other Chapters.
Like most Chapters, the rites of recruitment used by the Mourning Wardens are particularly brutal and unforgiving. On Occiana, the Chapter always ensure a constant supply of recruits, instead of organizing planet-wide events. Once per month, in a hundred special enclaves, young kids and teenagers can gather to partake in trials by combat. Those firsts rounds are only fought with wooden weapons, and the battle royales end only when a dozen or so aspirants remain standing. Those who fails at this stage can retry their chance twice, first after six months, and then a year.
The lucky few able to move to the next round are brought in rooms below the arenas, were they are put in pair and given their weapon of choice. Each aspirants are then given a single task : kill their opponent in a duel. Only those able to survive proceed to the next stage, when they are brought to Montsegut. There, they fast and pray for days, only being allowed one cup of water a day, during ten days. Those who collapse are quickly gathered and transformed into servitors.
The Aspirants who were able to endure such a pain then start the grueling process of being trained into shape, forced to endure standardized programs to ensure that their bodies are pure and able to accept the gene-seeds of the Chapter. The most promising recruits are screened to be implanted with Primaris Gene-Seed. At this stage, it may happens that no worthy Aspirants remains from one cycle, but the constant supply of young boys allows the Chapter to never face too much danger to its future.
Occiana is one of the oldest human world in the Segmentum Tempestus but one of the last discovered. It was colonized during the first great expansion of Mankind away from the Throne World. Sadly, even before the Long Nigh, its inhabitants had engulfed their newfound home into a planet-wide civil war. Scientists and philosophers were the first to be killed en masse, with libraries, schools and place of learning being torched to the ground. In two centuries, the Occianian had returned to an early Middle-Age level technology, with some notables exceptions, such as primitive chainsword weapons or night googles.
During the long centuries before the coming of the Imperium, the civilizations of Occiana grew prosperous, some of them trying to impose their will over the lesser lords, only to be felled when said weaker powers banded together, destroying most of the advancements made in the process. Therefore, the inhabitants came to see the corruption of government as impossible to prevent, and they came to revel in whatever pleasure they could find. Decadence and debasement, such as Fin Amor, poetry and a general pleasure of life ended only with the coming of the Imperium, during M39th.
Occiana was discovered by a Rogue Trader forced out of the Warp by powerful storms. He stumbled upon the forgotten world and spent almost two years spying on it, while his crew repaired his ship. It was only when he was sure that he could flee to safety easily should the locals tried to end his life that he made contact. The natives were stunned by his presence, charisma and "magical powers" (in truth some ancient and esoteric technology) and he managed to convince most of the lords to join the Imperium.
When officials of the Ecclesiarchy learnt of this world, they were horrified by what they saw as blasphemous joy, and great preachers were sent to the almost atheistic world. Saint Corman the Wise, Abdel the Preacher, Saint-Augustinia... those three bastions of virtues came to Occiana and left great blaze of devotions in their wake. Poets, troubadours and others who enjoyed the pleasure of life were burned on great pyres and the outlook of the inhabitants was changed forever.
Despair and grim composure took hold over the inhabitants, who came to see only the inherent failures of Mankind and how its corrupt nature had costed the Emperor's His Holy body. Still, instability only grew, lords seen as complacent for whatever reason suffered massive revolts of their vassals, all pretending to be doing the work of the Emperor. It was because the natives were willing to inflict great suffering on themselves that this world was selected to become the home of a Chapter from the Adeptus Astartes.
Since the 26th Founding, the right to have a son accepted into the Mourning Wardens has driven the Occianans to ever greater height of war, each petty lord hoping to offer his second born the chance to become one of the Emperor's chosen. Such devotion is often rewarded, even if it breeds ever more competition between the Astartes, and that appeasing old feuds is sometimes hard for the Chapter.
The Mourning Wardens' fortress-monastery isn't situated on Occiania proper, for the Astartes didn't want to be tied down by the petty squabbles of their charges. Instead, they built it on the Death Moon of Montsegu, a small astral body covered in deadly jungle and monstrous creatures, which are widely suspected to be the result of an ancient Tyranid infestation, not unlike the mighty Krakens of Fenris. The fortress share the name of the moon and has been erected into its highest peaks, making use of the natural barrier as a foundation, which was expanded by the technology of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
Montsegu is extremely vast, far more than usually required by the Astartes, but the Wardens specifically required it to be so, and servants keep pushing its boundaries. Indeed, the Wardens wanted to hide the core of their home behind layers upon layers of fortifications. Almost 90% of the Fortress is thus a formidable trap, comprised of massives fortifications, vast labyrinths where legions of servitors are waiting, armed to the teeth, passageways easy to collapse used by the Astartes to reach quickly every part of their bastion, and enough automated weapons to arm a small world.
Thousands of servants, comprised of failed aspirants or petty criminals that the Wardens capture on the planets they wage war on, are conditioned weekly to man those defenses in the absence of their masters, and three Companies are always standing by to ensure that the Fortress-Monastery will have its best defenders in case someone would be foolish enough to assault it. Combined with the Chapter's spaceport and at least one Strike Cruiser and a flotilla of inferior vessels, unfit for space travels outside of the system, Montsegu is one of the most formidable fortress ever erected by the Imperium.
Relations with other Chapters
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Notable Mourning Wardens
High Protector Alvaro Suarez
Alavaro Suarez was the highest ranking Crimson Fist selected to form the original cadre of officers for the Mourning Wardens. He was a massive and especially stubborn warrior, far keener to wield bolter and shoot his enemy from far away than to charge to the front. Alvaro proved to be a smart and devoted tactician, making great use of the wisdom of the Codex Astartes and yet being able to draw his own strategies, giving him a great string of victories. Alas, his life came to an end a year before the Return of Guilliman, when an Iron Warrior's warband came out of the Warp on the world of Carnas V. This death and the following defeat marred his success and proven a cautionary tale for his Brothers from Occiana.
High protector Baptistòu Singla
Baptistòu Singla is probably the last normal Astartes to ever ascend to the rank of High Protector, but also its second. Singla is far different from his predecessor. When Alvaro Suarez was a pure strategist, the new High Protector is far more a warrior, a master duelist and possibly the finest blade of his Chapter. Armed with his Mournblade and Griefknife, he his a deadly blur on the battlefield. He is also a tactician, whose shortcomings are overcomes by his talent to choose advisers able to compensate for his flaws.
But the High Protector is far from boastful, being just as dour as his predecessor. For Baptistòu Singla, each and every action he takes is imperfect, almost a failure, and only by searching to attain perfection can he hopes to become worthy of his title. Singla has not taken part in the Indomitus Crusade and the subsequent wars in the northern half of the former Imperium, instead devoting his Chapter to the protection of the planets still under the control of the Holy Terra.
First Defender Caïus Ignatius Juvii
Ninth Defender Erbrad de Castelrous
Erbrad de Castelrous is a legend in his Chapter, but alas one which is deeply intertwined with infamy. A simple Baattle-Brother among the firsts to be inducted into the Chapter, Erbrad displayed an incredible drive to succeed. He always held himself to the highest standard and from simple soldier to Sergeant, and then Defender, he expected that his warriors would match his zeal. It is this drive which allowed him to ascend to the rank of First Defender. But once he had reached such height of honor and power, he grew complacent.
This weakness doomed his Company on Catovar. This planet was plagued by mysterious raiders before the Cicatrix Maledictum formed, but when the great scar in reality opened, a Chaos pirate fleet attacked this world. Erbrad led the defense, but he was completely unprepared by the viciousness of his opponents, nor their tactical advantage. The Mourning Wardens only barely held their ground, and the Siege of Catovar was only breached by the rest of the Chapter's intervention, and the help of mysterious Drukhari.
After the war, Erbrad was demoted to the rank of 9th Defender, SIngla refusing to let his potential go entirely to waste. However, his failures weight heavily on de Castelrous, whose spirits seems to be broken. So far, he has shown no interest to shake off the infamy associated with his name, even almost a century after his greatest shame. Still, the amber of greatness still smolder in the Astartes' hearts and in recent months, the information that the very same Dark Eldars who appeared on Catovar has picked his interests.